Ending Rizana’s agony
If the Lankan State’s efforts
fail and more importantly if the divine quality of compassion
fails to reign in the hearts of humans, local teenager Rizana
Nazik would be put to death in Saudi Arabia over a murder charge
which many an authority claims has not been proved conclusively
or beyond all reasonable doubt.
Rizana’s hapless condition has filled many a local heart with
grief, particularly on account of her underage status and we
hope the Lankan State would spare no pains to obtain the girl’s
Accordingly, we earnestly hope Deputy Foreign Minister
Hussain Bhaila’s mission to Saudi Arabia to plead for clemency
for Rizana, would be a success. We urge that nothing be allowed
to stand in the way of the State winning Rizana’s release. The
pricelessness of the girl’s life should be our overriding
concern and nothing else.
We could not help reflecting that in the contemporary world
the ‘law of love’ and compassion supercedes all other laws and
It forms the bedrock of the UN system, for instance, and is a
prime inspirational source of the UN Charter. In other words,
the ‘law of love’ is the normative basis of contemporary
international relations. That this supreme norm is often
observed in the breach does not diminish its validity and
We call, therefore, for the abundant exercise of love and
compassion on the part of all quarters concerned in the handling
of the Rizana case. May it be remembered that to be clement is
That said, we hope Rizana’s condition would alert the local
authorities to some glaring irregularities which have been
allowed to occur.
To begin with, how has it come about that a teenage girl has
obtained “employment” abroad? How did she escape the scrutiny of
the local authorities? Are not the local employment agencies
subjected to a legal regime which would help prevent these
These are hard posers which the Lankan State and civil
society need to grapple with and answer satisfactorily.
Apparently, a spirit of lassitude prevails in the State
agencies which overlook the implementation of the law in
relation to the migrant workers of the land. We hope Rizana’s
agony, at least, would compel them to ensure that the laws are
implemented in both letter and spirit.
That all is not well in the area of preventing the abuse of
children by foreign employment racketeers was evident some time
back when some girl children, far below employable age, were
found in the company of suspect adults who were in the process
of sending them abroad. These detections should have kept the
authorities on their toes.
Alas, as in the case of a number of issues of similar
gravity, an eye of benign neglect seems to have been cast on
this problem too.
However, it is not too late to crack down on these grave
abuses which are disfiguring our polity.
The present crisis should also prompt the authorities into
doing everything in their power to ensure the well being of our
migrant workers. Nothing could be left to chance because we owe
it to these workers to sustain and strengthen their wholeness in
The Lankan polity could be accused of killing the proverbial
goose that lays the “golden eggs” by turning a Nelsonian eye on
the suffering of our migrant workers.